The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), has urged the Federal High Court in Abuja not to nullify the recruitment of 10,000 police constables as requested by the Police Service Commission.
The minister, in a counter-affidavit opposing the suit instituted by the PSC to challenge the proprietary of the constables’ recruitment process by the Nigeria Police Force, contended that nullifying the process which he said had gone through “significant stages”, as requested by the commission, would amount to an economic loss for the country.
The PSC had in September this year instituted the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1124/2019, in its bid to gain the exclusive right to conduct the recruitment process which the NPF and Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, have almost concluded.
The commission asked the judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, to nullify the process already commenced by the NPF and the IG, and declare it as the body with the exclusive powers to carry out the recruitment process.
But Malami, who was later joined as a defendant in the case following the NPF’s application, threw his weight behind the three pre-existing defendants – the NPF, the IG, and the Minister of Police Affairs – urging the court to dismiss the suit.
His counter-affidavit added, “That the plaintiff’s Prayer 5 seeks to nullify the current process of recruitment of 10,000 persons for appointment in the Nigerian Police Force.
“That the recruitment process has gone through significant stages in filtering qualified persons for appointment.
“That millions of naira have been budgeted and expended on the current recruitment process of abut 10,000 persons into the Nigeria Police Force.
“That nullifying the current exercise will occasion serious economic loss to the country.”
Malami had earlier, in his September 16, 2019 letter of a legal opinion issued upon a request by the Presidency, argued that the PSC only had
the power to “appoint” the police officers, while the powers to “recruit” them were those of the IG and the Police Council.
The AGF, in his counter-affidavit opposing the PSC’s suit, also cited a similar legal opinion issued by his immediate-past predecessor, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), on August 8, 2010, and addressed to the Ministry of Police Affairs, stating that it was the NPF that had the power to recruit into the Force.
Malami stated that since the establishment of the PSC, “the recruitment of persons for appointment into the Nigeria Police Force had been done by the 1st and 2nd defendants (NPF and the IG).”
He added that the plaintiff’s Prayer 5 seeking the nullification of the process being conducted by the NPF, “will create a serious negative effect on the workforce of the 1st defendant (the NPF) as the validity of past exercises conducted will be questioned.”
In the written legal submissions filed on his behalf along with the counter-affidavit by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Apata (SAN), Malami contended that the Nigerian Constitution “did not state recruitment as one of the functions of the Police Service Commission”.
He added, “The word, ‘appointment’ cannot be accorded an expansive interpretation to include the initial enlistment or engagement recruitment of constables into the NPF.
“A proper construction of the word ‘appoint’ and ‘appointed’ in section 215(1)(a) and (b), and Paragraph 30(a) of the Third Schedule, Part I of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and section 24 f the Police Service Commission Act, shows that the appointment is to be made from persons already in the system.”
He added, “While it is the powers of the Police Service Commission to appoint police officers to various offices, it is the duty f the 1st t 3rd defendants to conduct recruitment exercises for persons to be appointed by the Police Service Commission.”
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